What you can do in the next 7 days to create change

by Carmen Van Kerckhove, originally published at Carmen Van Kerckhove.com

Just seven days to go until perhaps the most important election ever.

I urge all of you who are Obama supporters: Do not get complacent now.

Sure, several polls suggest that Obama has a double-digit lead over McCain — but that doesn’t mean we should assume that he’s got it in the bag.

As longtime Republican political operative Bill Greener recently wrote on Salon.com, when undecided voters have to choose between a black candidate and a white candidate, they tend to vote white:

If you’re a black candidate running against a white candidate, what you see is what you get. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an incumbent or a challenger. If you’re not polling above 50 percent, you should be worried. As of this writing, Barack Obama is not polling consistently above 50 percent in a number of electoral-vote-rich swing states, including Ohio and Florida. He should be worried.

And let’s not discount the huge role that voter suppression will likely play. Jay Smooth from the video blog Ill Doctrine put together this “Poem for the Young Voter” to drive that point home:

So what can you do to help at this historic time?

First of all, make sure you protect your own vote by reading this 12-step checklist of what to do before, on, and after Election Day. And share the list with your family and friends by using this form here.

Then, do one or all of these 3 things:

1. Volunteer for the campaign.
2. Call or visit voters in battleground states.
3. Find and join an event in your local area.

What will you be doing in the next 7 days to work towards change?

Retro Flashback: Ruminations on a Song and on a Word

by Latoya Peterson

Warning – Explicit Language

While I was researching a piece for Feministe, I stumbled across an old video.

The video is of a TV appearance for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, performing their song “Woman is the Nigger of the World” on the Dick Cavett show.

John Lennon goes into great detail as to how the record was made. He mentions that most of the people who have an issue with the title are white and male. Also in his explanation, he notes “All my black friends feel I have quite a right to say it.”

He also reads a statement from the then-chairman of the Black Caucus:

“If you define nigger as someone whose lifestyle is defined by others, whose opportunities are defined by others, whose role in society is defined by others, then good news! – you don’t have to be black to be a nigger in this society. Most of the people in America are niggers.”

Lennon goes on to say “I think the word nigger has changed, and it does not have the same meaning that it used to.”

They then go into the song.


How Post Racial Are We?

by Latoya Peterson

Apparently, so post-racial that the Feds just interrupted an assassination plot that would have eventually targeted Barack Obama.

Two white supremacists allegedly plotted to go on a national killing spree, shooting and decapitating black people and ultimately targeting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, federal authorities said Monday.

In all, the two men whom officials describe as neo-Nazi skinheads planned to kill 88 people — 14 by beheading, according to documents unsealed in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Tenn. The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The spree, which initially targeted an unidentified predominantly African-American school, was to end with the two men driving toward Obama, “shooting at him from the windows,” the court documents show.

“Both individuals stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt,” the court complaint states. “Both individuals further stated they knew they would and were willing to die during this attempt.”

This follows the attempted assassination plot back in August at the Democratic National Convention.

So post-racial that vandals tore down a memorial sign to Emmitt Till:

A sign marking the site where Emmett Till’s battered body was pulled from a river in 1955 has been ripped down by vandals, authorities said.

The sign posted on a road near the Tallahatchie River was among eight that were erected after the county adopted a resolution last year apologizing to Till’s family because an all-white jury acquitted two white men of murdering Till for whistling at a white woman. […]

“We’re not going to tolerate them tearing down anything that’s marking Emmett Till’s murder,” Board of Supervisors President Jerome G. Little said Monday. “I want to send a message: Every time they take it down, we’re going to put it back up.” […]

This isn’t the first time vandals have targeted Till memorials. Last year, a roadside marker on U.S. 49 in Greenwood in Leflore County was stolen. It was replaced with another sign. And, another sign in Tallahatchie County was damaged earlier this year, commission members said.

So post racial, that we seem to be repeating history:

Jacquline McClelland poses with a photo of her son Brandon McClelland, Friday, Oct. 24, 2008, in Paris, Texas. Brandon, a black man, was on a late-night beer run across state lines to Oklahoma with two white friends last month and ended up dead on a rural Texas road. Authorities say he was run over by a pickup and then dragged as far as 70 feet beneath the truck. Two white men have been charged with murder in the case.

[Please note, that says “murder” not “involuntary manslaughter.”]

I have some more positive news for tomorrow – but reading stuff like this just makes me want to pull the covers over my head.

(Photo Credits: Google Images/The Associated Press)

(Thanks to Angel H. and Anna for the tips.)

D.L. Hughley Headlines a New Political Comedy Show on CNN

by Latoya Peterson

Please Note: This is NOT a D.L. Hughley fansite. You cannot contact him directly through this site, or leave feedback about his show.

Before I sat down to watch D. L. Hughley Breaks the News, I was skeptical of the whole project. D.L. Hughley doesn’t immediately come to mind when I think of a comedian that is well versed in politics and current events. The author of the NY Times article seems to concur, noting:

For the last week Mr. Hughley, 45, has had to arrive every morning at his office at CNN in Manhattan at the ungodly (for a comedian) hour of 11 a.m. to digest reams of information from newspapers, Web sites, television and talk radio. He has no time to goof off during the 8-to-12-hour days; only the occasional moment to glance at his new profile in the CNN company directory that lists him as an anchor.

“I’m like, ‘Come on, man,’ ” an incredulous Mr. Hughley said in a recent interview. “I barely even know how to read. I’ve got a G.E.D.”

Just 10 days ago CNN announced that Mr. Hughley would be the host of a new comedy-news show, “D. L. Hughley Breaks the News,” which has its premiere Saturday at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

AverageBro already laid down his thoughts on the show, writing:

I’m not saying Hughley isn’t funny. His early days of Comic View were classic. And for the record, his standup career is far more successful than anything Stewart did pre-Daily Show.

But DL just doesn’t seem to have the gravitas to pull this off. His shortlived Comedy Central talk show, Weekends At The DL, was atrocious. His appearances on shows like Real Time With Bill Maher and The Glenn Beck Show don’t give me the impression that this cat is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to politricks.

He also brings up another large elephant in the room when it comes to D.L. Hughley’s idea of comedy:

Is it wrong for me to still be upset about that “nappy headed hoes” comment more than a year after the fact? Prolly not, but I’m sorry, I just cannot get over that. That sh*t was a straight up James T. Harris b*tch move in my book.

I wonder how dude could go home and look his wife and daughter in the eyes after that bullsh*t.

I prolly won’t watch this show, so I guess I shouldn’t bash it. Could it possibly be any worse than Chocolate News or The Tony Rock Project? Even though I wished CNN’s affirmative action hire had been Roland Martin instead, I guess I should just be happy to see black men working, no matter how mediocre the product.

Nah. Bump that.

If you wanna support a black man on TeeVee, peep BET’s slept on Somebodies. Now that’s comedy.

Screw DL Hughley. A true Nappy Headed Hoe!

Continue reading

The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 3.6

Hosted by Arturo R. García

This week, Heroes gave your humble panelists one of the choicest lines to work with in a stunningly out-of-character remark by Ando. Before we see what they have to say, though, let’s do the roll call. Roundtable – Assemble!


Let’s go!

What the hell was with Ando’s “They all look alike to me”? Bad joke by him, or really bad joke by the writers?

Hexy: I found it really off putting. It actually jarred me out of what was otherwise an enjoyable Hiro and Ando scene. I thought it out of character for Ando… but then again, season one’s obsessive interaction with Niki showed that he’s less than evolved when it comes to his views on people-who-aren’t-of-his-gender, so maybe it wasn’t so out of character for him to have off views on people-who-aren’t-of-his-race. Either way, it seemed like a clunky line shoe-horned into an inappropriate racial frame.

Speaking of Hiro and Ando, while I was glad to see that Ando isn’t dead, I think they squandered the “Hiro did something you didn’t see!” card. I was expecting it, but I was hoping it would be used to show that Hiro hasn’t actually been a useless git all season, not just in the preceding episode.

Mahsino: Although I initially was amused by this joke (before realizing I’d heard it before in tv and movies), I have to say I’m really conflicted about it in a way that wouldn’t really make sense to delve too deeply in to. At most I can say, the whole Hiro/Ando storyline is starting to seem like a 21st century Kato, but instead of martial arts, they have humor. It’s getting kind of old and the writers are going to have to bring a lot more character development to those two before they have the right to inject them with dry, racially themed, humor- those are the kind of jokes you need context and character reference for- 2 things the writers haven’t deemed necessary to accessorize Hiro and Ando with.

On the flip side, I only had to pour out a little bit of cranberry juice for Ando since he came back- good thing because inflation is making juice expensive.

Erica: I think it was well intentioned, but not well executed. Here’s a tip for Ando (aka my guide to Heroes characters who are white with brown/black
hair): Matt (pudgy, carries a tortoise), Nathan (sleazy politician smile), Peter (Keanu Reeves), Sylar (big eyebrows), and Bennett (glasses). The tortoise is shaping up to be my favorite character this season…

Anyway, it was supposed to be funny but it ended up being one of those “um…” moments. Considering the overall sensitivity/diversity of Heroes, that fits; they seem to be trying, but are far from perfect (which gives us plenty of meat every week). Of course, at other times they don’t seem to be trying at all, so maybe I give them too much credit. Continue reading

Introducing Our Newest Special Correspondent!

by Latoya Peterson

It is with great pleasure that I announce our newest Special Correspondent – Jessica Yee! Jessica has already been doing an excellent job covering Native Issues, and she will also expand to food coverage in the near future. Here’s a little more about Jessica:

Jessica Yee is the founder and Director of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, who works across North America on issues of healthy sexuality, cultural competency, and youth empowerment. At 22, she is a proud Mohawk and Indigenous Chinese young woman, who is also involved in anti-oppression and violence prevention education work with organizations such as the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Highway of Tears Initiative.

Jessica is a strong believer in the power of the youth voice, and you can see her activisting it up on sites like SHAMELESS Magazine: For Girls Who Get It!, RABBLE.ca, or writing in the community about Indigenous feminism and sex in the Turtle Island Native News or the Kahnawake Eastern Door.

She is currently doing front line reproductive rights activist work with Canadians for Choice, and sits on the Board of Directors for Maggie’s: Sex Workers Organizing. She is also teaching with the Alberta Society for the Promotion of Sexual Health, and is the National Youth Coordinator for the Taking Action Project! Art and Aboriginal Youth Leadership for HIV Prevention.

Please join me in welcoming Jessica to the team!

The Reggaetón Factor in the U.S. Elections

by Guest Contributor Marisol LeBron, originally published at NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America)

Who would have thought when Daddy Yankee released “Gasolina” in 2004 that four short years later the song would become the butt of jokes about John McCain and offshore drilling? If there were still sectors of U.S. society that didn’t know about reggaetón, this year’s presidential race certainly changed that.

Daddy Yankee caused a stir in August when he publicly endorsed Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The reggaetonero recently made headlines again when he agreed to help moderate a debate on October 9 among candidates for governor of Puerto Rico as part of the “Vota o Quédate Callao” (Vote or Shut Up) initiative to get young voters to the polls in November.

Not to be outdone, Barack Obama has also had a number of reggaetón artists come out in support of his campaign, most notably Julio Voltio and Don Omar who appeared in the video “Podemos con Obama,” directed by Yerba Buena’s Andres Levin. Calle 13 is even rocking the vote over at MTV. The duo can be seen in ads on MTV and MTV Tr3s urging young people to listen to their new album on the way to the polls.

Does this signal the emergence of a “reggaetón vote”? Pundits have wondered about the weight of the “hip-hop vote” in this year’s election, particularly regarding Barack Obama’s potential appeal to young African American and Latino/a voters. But in 2012 will political pundits be asking candidates what they’re doing to win the “reggaetón vote”? Continue reading

Open Thread – Ashley Todd

by Latoya Peterson

This is Ashley Todd.

According to the Smoking Gun:

OCTOBER 23–Shortly before a John McCain campaign volunteer was reportedly robbed at knifepoint and had a “B” carved in her face after her assailant noticed that her car carried a McCain bumper sticker, the woman blogged last night that she was “Stubbornly searching for a bank of america to avoid ATM fees” and had somehow ended up “on the wrong side of pittsburgh.” Ashley Todd, a 20-year-old Texas college student, told cops that she was robbed of $60 by a 6′ 4″ black man who weighed about 200 pounds. Todd claimed that when her assailant noticed the McCain sticker on her vehicle, he punched her in the head and carved the letter on her right cheek (a battered Todd can be seen at right).

TMZ reports that she added sexual assault to the story, later stating the assailant had fondled her breast.

After the police investigated, and voiced their suspicions about her injuries being self-inflicted, she recanted the story.

Some thoughts:

1. Interesting that a McCain supporter went through the trouble of making up an elaborate hoax, when another man was shot for wearing a Barack Obama tee shirt, and an Obama volunteer was actually attacked during canvassing:

As Eugenia posted earlier this week, a Barack Obama volunteer, 58-year-old Nancy Takehara of Chicago, was physically assaulted on Saturday by a homeowner while canvassing in Caledonia, Wisconsin. Takehara told a local television station that the man “grabbed me by the back of the neck” and “was pounding on my head and screaming.” According to Takehara, the man yelled, among other things, that “we’re not his people, we’re probably with ACORN.”

The attacker has now been identified as 71-year-old Ronald Goetsch, a McCain supporter and Marine veteran who has donated to the McCain campaign. In a local television interview, Goetsch admits that he attacked Takehara after engaging her in a verbal dispute. Goetsch claims that Takehara was “being loud” but acknowledges that she did not physically threaten him in any way.

The local Republican party released a loathsome statement that expressed no regret or sympathy over the attack. Instead, it actually seemed to justify Goetsch’s statements to Takehara by again raising the phony specter of ACORN: “As we read press accounts of alleged violence against an Obama campaign worker and accounts of ACORN registration fraud, coupled with daily complaints from both parties of stolen or vandalized yard signs, the Racine County Republican Party would like to encourage supporters of both sides to take a deep breath…” Talk about blaming the victim.

(Thanks jmn for the tip.)

2. I am also finding it interesting how this woman is able to immediately turn around an claim mental issues (See links, where she describes how she suddenly doesn’t remember how she got a backwards B on her face or how she sustained her injuries.) She may very well have them – but that does not excuse racist behavior. I also find it interesting that her twitter feed proves that most of this was premeditated, so even though she is being charged with a false report, it probably won’t stick.

3. I understand all the arguments that women should be believed when they report a sexual assault. And I advocate for this whole heartedly – way too many women feel as though they won’t be believed, which leads them to shy away from reporting sexual assault or rape. Yet, I notice there is no similar concern for the black men who are often targeted in these kinds of vague cases (and have already have to live with the big black boogeyman specter looming over them, as ?uestlove’s post on Okayplayer noted.) When will we talk about the toll on black men, knowing that they somehow always fit the description? But no, I’m sure this will be yet another “isolated incident.”

4. Message to the GOP: When someone shows up with that kind of story with a backwards B on her face, do us all a favor: wait and get the bank security tapes first before you alert the media. Would have saved you all a bunch of embarrassment.

5. Props to the Jezebel commenters who brought up To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s not like we haven’t seen this script before.

6. Props to the Pittsburgh police department:

: Melissa Harris Lacewell weighs in:

Todd’s story resonates with this historic script, but it is critically important to point out how the end of the story radically deviates from lynching narratives. In this case the police were immediately suspicious of Todd. They did not initiate a manhunt in black communities surrounding Pittsburgh. Instead they subjected Todd to a lie detector test. When she failed they pressed her for a confession. Yolanda, this ending makes all the difference because it points to the fact that black people are not totally outside the protection of the law. It points to the reality that our citizenship status today is different than it was in 1900. It points to the reality of change across time.

Is racism still alive in America? Yes. Is racial inequality still deep, pervasive, and meaningful in the lives of black Americans. Yes. Did the police believe Ashley Todd? No. Was anyone lynched as a result of her lies? No. That matters to me.

I am utterly exhausted with having to defend my brothers, father, uncles, lovers, friends, and students against the racist assumption that black men are uniquely prone to violence. So many of the black men that I know and love are gentle, funny, smart and cool. I am disgusted with the reality that as we stand on the precipice of electing the first black president we are still haunted by the lie of the violent, black madman.